I have been reading Seth Godin’s ,ebook manifesto stop stealing dreams and like so many things in my life there is a marked congruence between it’s ideas and my own meandering thoughts. I have looked forward to a book like this since reading Linchpin last year. I welcome someone with Seth’s analytical ability and way of raising questions taking a long hard look at the education system, every aspect – even the role of the teacher, which is where most hackles will rise. The fact is that education as we know it is not as effective as we need it to be to prepare for the future. We can watch as many shift happens videos as we like but until we start to envision and create that shift, that revolution in education then we’ll keep getting the same old stuff – disengaged learners who don’t see the point of much of what we do in the classroom.
Now this is a big job to tackle and many of us are tackling as best we can. Neil Fara’s Project Real is one example of challenging the status quo in teaching.
The status quo says one teacher per classroom, 30 students to a class, chairs in neat rows, everyone on the same page working at the same speed, teaching to the middle ability. Project Real challenges this in many ways. To better understand it follow the link.
Then there is another of my inspirations – Bianca Hewes who is incorporating Project Based Learning in her classroom to inspire a love of learning and enquiry that results in skill and knowledge acquisition , not to mention 21st century skills. There are many more teachers out there trying to do something that is better than the status quo. Unfortunately there are many more who are happy to keep doing what they have been doing or have been taught to do for many years.
Having recently changed schools, I found myself wandering around lost the other day and it really struck me, as I walked past classroom after classroom of students sitting there facing the front, listening to the teacher, that this is very far removed from how I like to learn. What I like to do when I need to learn something is not sit listening to someone speak about it ( especially at Professional Development Days), rather I consider what it is I need to know/learn ( often in a hazy way) and then I start to gather information, usually from the web, but also in books, videos (ted talk anyone?) and consider it more deeply, maybe jot a few ideas down, trying to organise the process. Then I might engage in conversations with my colleagues to find out what they know or bounce my ideas off them. Then I will come to some sort of resolution where I can reflect back on whether I have fulfilled my original goals and then I develop further goals on the learning or I seek out new, relevant things to learn.
None of this involves sitting down and learning what someone else wants me to learn. It is self-directed, self-motivated, individual and collaborative, engaging, relevant to now (not some distant future), haphazard and, ultimately, rewarding.
Is this what I see when I walk around schools? Probably not. Is this what I see in MY classroom? Not yet.
I am not holding up what I do in the classroom as any sort of model. I am not there yet, but I have a plan and I have the motivation to give my students the education they will need. Now I just have to set about making my edu-dreams a reality.